Isabel and Pedro of ‘Issotta’

This is the story of the singing nun and the guitar-playing priest! Yes, the couple you know as the ‘beautiful voice and jazz guitarist’ have a past they were itching to tell. The problem with this interview, however, was going to be the language barrier. Pedro was called away on urgent business, Isabel speaks only a little English and my Spanish is limited to ‘el escusado se derramo de agua’ (‘the toilet is over-flowing’), so some cunning linguists were recruited for translation. Eva and Steve of ‘Music’ and Pilar of ‘Shelter’ would help the Porthole readers learn more about these ecclesiastical sailors…

112Isabel started life as a land-lubber in Burgos, which is in the centre of Spain. Pedro, on the other hand, has strong nautical connections having been brought up in the southern harbour city of Cartagena, one of the most important naval ports in Spain. His brother has worked for the America’s Cup all over the world. But that’s not important! What’s all this about nunneries and stuff?

“I was a nun for many years and Pedro was a priest”, explains Isabel with that angelic smile. “We were both on a trip to Rome to see the Pope, which is how we met. When we returned to Spain we cast off our robes and decided to go sailing instead”. Just like that? “Yes. We shocked both the church and our families by getting married. Within a month we bought ‘Issotta’, a Dufor 40, and invited our parents to see our future home. Fortunately they loved it and with their blessing we set sail the next day”.

This scoop was just too good to be true: I thought the singing nun was a sixties pop legend, not a bright young sailor from Spain.


“I’m sorry”, apologises Isabel, with that angelic smile turning into a devilish grin, “that bit about me being a nun was a joke”. Yes, dear reader, it seems as if Isabel and Pedro have a very funny sense of humour. They’d been planning this wind-up for weeks and I fell for it, hook line and sinker. Nun indeed, I ask you! “But the rest of it’s true”, adds Pilar, “they really did quit their jobs, bought a boat and set sail, all within a month”. “Although I’d never been sailing”, explains Isabel, “when Pedro asked if I wanted to live on the sea there was only one reaction: OK, let’s go!”

3It doesn’t take much to work out what jobs they quit. Both Isabel and Pedro are teachers, she of music and he of physical education. I say ‘are’ and not ‘were’ because they plan to go back to work. “For financial reasons we have to return to  work in Spain but our intention is to sail back, sell the boat, work some more, buy another boat and bring up children on it”. Just like that? You sure this isn’t another wind-up? “No! Because we work for the government we are able to take time off whenever we want, which is ideal for part-time liveaboards”. Nice work if you can get it!

After jumping aboard they cruised extensively eastwards. When asked where they’d been Isabel traced her finger across a chart of the Med, stopping at just about every island on the way, each with a little anecdote. Any religious experiences? “Mount Etna was incredible. At the time we passed Sicily we had to steer clear of the east coast as Etna was erupting. At night you could see the lava flow but during the day the wind would dump ash on our decks. It got everywhere, including inside the winches. Every time we cleaned the decks, so the wind would bring more ash. It took us a month to clean it all up”.

What about their favourite spot? “There are too many to mention and to be honest the thing we like most about sailing is the people we meet. The camaraderie amongst sailors. We met Pierre and Marie of ‘ChampFleury’ in the Ionian Islands. It was out of season and only our two boats were in the anchorage. Marie had an accident and had to be taken to hospital so Pedro and myself helped Pierre take the boat into the nearest harbour. That kind of solidarity makes sailing special.”



Before Pilar left us I wanted to find out just a little more about the music. Isabel has been singing since she was seven years old and was classically trained at music school. From as early as she could remember she wanted to be a music teacher. When singing live her inspiration comes from the jazz greats like Holiday, but it’s her father she has the most respect for. “He loves his music and sings very well.” Pedro, on the other hand, taught himself guitar, inspired by the likes of Joe Pass (also born into a non-musical family) and the jazz-guitar legend, Kenny Burrell. Back in Madrid, where Isabel and Pedro are based, the couple have their own jazz band, playing for friends in clubs and bars. Marmaris Yacht Marina, therefore, must be home from home for them, so are we going to hear them perform for us again before they move on? “Of course”, responds Isabel in English, never losing that infectious smile. “Normally I’m quite introverted but when I get on stage and start singing…I love it!”.

Us yotties appreciate great music and we look forward to their next performance sometime soon. Just try not to picture them in a habit and vestments!

Interviewed by Jamie of ‘Esper’. Our thanks go to Pilar, Eva and Steve for their help with translation.

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